News: Skating the day away
Story by Staff Sgt. Antwaun Parrish
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. –As a child, Pvt. Jose Rodriguez pieced together plywood and wheels to make his first skateboard. Two years later, he received his first real skateboard on his 13th birthday.
“I begged my mom for a skateboard and I was so happy when she got me one,” said Rodriguez, a food service specialist, assigned to I Corps.
He has been skateboarding for more than six years and enjoys it more every time he gets a chance to do it, alongside his full-time job in the Army.
“Since I have been in the Army I haven’t skated too much,” said the 19-year-old. “I only skate about twice a week. I’ll skate for a few hours until I fall or hit myself pretty bad then call it quits.”
Rodriguez tries to emulate his favorite skateboarder, Chris Cole, a professional skateboarder who also began skateboarding as a teenager.
“He’s crazy and he rides with a Zero board,” Rodriguez said. “That’s the board that I have and that’s the board I got on my 13th birthday and I have stuck with it ever since.”
Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. offers two skate plazas for anyone interested. Rodriguez enjoys the ability to frequent parks that are so close but wishes there was an indoor park because of the frequent rainfall.
Rodriguez doesn’t have a lot of time to skate now compared to before he joined the Army. Growing up in Del Rio, Texas, he was a founding member of a skateboarding club who he said was the talk around town.
Rodriguez and his cousins named the club the Tonik skaters. In order to become a member you would have to manual a gap named after the club. Manual means to balance on the back two wheels much like a wheelie on a bike. Members of the club could then spray paint a “T” on the bottom of their boards, showing that they completed the trick.
“We were actually pretty big, people always talked about the group,” Rodriguez said.
He competed in three competitions held in Del Rio when he was 16.
“Our city hosted them and the whole city would come out,” Rodriguez said. “I would always compete in the street skating category, but I never won any of them.”
Rodriguez is no longer a member of a skate club, nor does he compete, but he has met another person who shares his passion for skating.
He found this out while riding in Spc. Cody Hogener’s car and realized he had a board in his back seat. The two have shared the common bond of skateboarding ever since.
“I saw the skateboard in the back of his car and I was messing around with it, so he asked if I wanted to go to the skate shop,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez purchased his new board and started skating again.
Hogener, who is also a food service specialist, has been in the Army longer than Rodriguez and was excited to find out that someone else who he works with, shares his passion.
“It doesn’t seem like there are a lot of people who like to skate,” said Hogener, a native of Phoenix. “Its nice having another person to go with and skate. It boosts my morale knowing there is a fellow skateboarder in the kitchen.”
Rodriguez stands approximately 6-foot, 1-inch and is of a slender stature and always appears to be humble at work. When he’s working in the kitchen he leaves his skateboarder attitude at home, but once he puts on his skinny jeans and grabs his board, he changes his persona.
“In the kitchen I’m trying to be professional and the best I can be,” he said. “When I’m skating I show off a bit and have fun. I take it seriously, I just don’t beat myself up if I can’t land something.”
Rodriguez has a trick up his sleeve that he does, and is proud that he can land it.
“I always do the double-kick trick,” Rodriguez said. “It’s when you flip the board twice. A lot of people aren’t able to do it and that’s one of my special moves.”
Being in the kitchen can be demanding, stressful and require lots of hours. For Rodriguez, when he has a long day he already knows where to find his solitude.
“I like to go fast and go up ramps,” Rodriguez said. “Speed helps get my mind off things, and when I learn a new trick I feel a whole lot better.”
Hogener added that after a stressful day he finds skateboarding relaxing as well.
Even though Rodriguez doesn’t have the ability or time to skateboard as much as he used to, he enjoys the fact the he can still skate and opportunities on JBLM allow him to continue his passion.